Day 1 - Santiago
Bienvenidos! Welcome to Chile. You can arrive at any time on Day 1 as there are no activities planned until an important welcome meeting tonight. Your leader will leave a note at the hotel reception telling you where and when this meeting will take place. Please ask a member of reception for this information. After the group meeting there is the option of joining the group for dinner. If you arrive early, perhaps get out and explore Santiago. The city centre is quite compact and easy to get around. Head out to the barrio Bella Vista (the serene 'Paris Quarter') or take a cable car up to Cerro San Cristobal. If the weather is fine, the latter will give you lovely views over the city and the Andes. Your hotel is centrally located and has a restaurant and bar. Rooms have air-conditioning and ensuite bathrooms.
Notes: If you need to hire a sleeping bag for your upcoming trek, let your leader know at tonight's welcome meeting.
Day 2 - Punta Arenas / Puerto Natales
Today is a travel day, so sit back and enjoy the scenery. Fly from Santiago to Punta Arenas (approximately 3–5 hours, depending on the flight connection). From there, take a local bus to Puerto Natales (approximately 3 hours). Seated on the shores of a beautiful lake, Puerto Natales is the gateway to Torres del Paine National Park and a great place to catch up with fellow hikers for a pre- or post-trek meal in one of the many quaint local restaurants.
Day 3-6 - Torres del Paine National Park/W Hike
Travel by local bus and catamaran to your first campsite of the trek at the Torres del Paine National Park. As you enter the realm of Chilean Patagonia, you will most likely be greeted by a herd of guanacos. These strange animals provide great photo opportunities (but don't get too close – they're likely to spit at you!). The park is also home to some impressive birds such as nandues, condors and pink flamingos. The real star of the show, however, is the landscape – glaciers, mountains, lakes and waterfalls. After setting up camp and enjoying some lunch, you'll trek to the first lookout point: Grey Glacier (approximately 4 hours; 12 km). On Day 4, trek to the French Valley (approximately 8 hours; 22 km). On Day 5, cross Peohe Lake by catamaran and travel by local bus to Laguna Amarga, then hike from there (approximately 4 hours, 12 km). Day 6 is another long trekking day, to one of the most spectacular lookout points: Mirador de las Torres (approximately 9 hours; 18 kilometres).
Notes: During these treks you will carry a small day pack with your personal belongings, such as a rain jacket, water, snacks and a camera. Dinners are simple (pastas, rice, chicken) and are served in a common dining area. Lunches consist of sandwiches, fruit and sometimes a chocolate bar. Soft and alcoholic drinks are not provided and there is a limited selection to buy from at the general store. If you'd like fruit, nuts, wine or spirits, you'll need to buy these beforehand and bring them with you. Bathroom facilities are available in the campsite, with communal showers and bathroom separated by gender. You and a fellow traveller will share a tent for these four nights. Sleeping bags are not provided on this trip, but can be hired if you don't have your own (USD40 for the 4 nights). Make sure you inform your leader of Day 1 of the trip if you plan to hire a sleeping bag. A thermarest / inflatable mattress and small pillow are provided.
This a traditional 'W hike', which usually involves staying overnight at Camping Los Cuernos. The space available to set up camp in this area is very limited (particularly on the busy summer months) and the terrain is uncomfortable. This itinerary skips this campsite by driving to the other side of the park (Laguna Amarga). We believe this change enhances the enjoyment of the trekking days.
Day 7 - El Calafate
Enjoy some breakfast, then board a local bus for a long day of travel. Head to El Calafate in Argentina (approximately 7 hours). This is your gateway to the Glacier National Park. Being a major hub for adventurers headed for Perito Moreno, El Calafate has undergone a lot of development in recent decades, but retains plenty of charm. In the evening, perhaps take the opportunity to try some world-famous Argentinean steak or some fresh-caught local trout.
Day 8 - El Calafate/Perito Moreno Glacier
Travel by minivan (approximately 2.5 hours), witnessing some spectacular scenery en route to the Perito Moreno Glacier. Once you arrive, spend some time exploring this natural wonder. This is one of the few glaciers in the world that's actually advancing rather than melting away. At 3 kilometres wide and 35 kilometres long, it's an incredibly massive icescape. Watch and listen to the crack of the ice as it plunges into the waters below. Interestingly, massive ruptures occur to the glacier every four to five years as part of cyclical ice bridge formations. In the evening, return to El Calafate and relax for the evening.
Day 9 - Buenos Aires
Fly back to Buenos Aires and enjoy a final night out. If you find yourself with some free time in the afternoon, perhaps see some of BA you missed the first time around. On the east side of the Plaza de Mayo you will find the Casa Rosada, the pink presidential palace where Eva Peron appeared on the balcony in front of adoring fans in the 1940s. There is also a Museo Evita, dedicated to the life (and gowns) of this famed figure. MALBA is an incredible art gallery showcasing a private collection, including works by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, plus great temporary exhibits.
Notes: If everything goes to plan, you'll arrive in the early afternoon, but keep in mind that airline schedules in Argentina are known for changing without much notice. This means you could arrive in BA as late as 10 pm tonight.
Day 10 - Buenos Aires
Your adventure ends after breakfast this morning. There are no further activities planned, and you are free to depart at any time.
Accommodation, Food (as stated), Transport, Selected Activities
Flights, Travel Insurance, Visa, Vaccinations or Personal Spending Money